For those of you with gardens, you may be sorted with this one 😉 For the rest of us, we may be apprehensive to go out even for that once a day form of exercise. I am, as I live in a building with a footfall of hundreds of people within the two blocks of ten and twenty stories, with each floor having at least 6 or 7 flats housing single people, couples, small and larger families. I feel safer and more socially responsible staying inside.
I think it would be a helpful thing for us all to have a nice safe space in our homes or our gardens where we can be ‘tech free’, switch off from the world for a few minutes, and relax and enjoy. Something much needed for our mental and emotional health in these days. Feel free to share pictures of your little ‘getaways’ to inspire, uplift and encourage others reading this. Alternatively, the ‘blanket fort’ is a popular choice – # staycation vibes. 😉 😎 Don’t compare with others, and make the best of what you’ve got .
Here is a little look into my attempts to recreate a beach-house vibe 🙂
We all have this immediate threat to deal with. Currently it is taking up most of our collective consciousness, attention and energy. While in ‘lockdown’ we may initially find ourselves regularly watching the news or keeping updated on what is happening around the world and in our own area. We will also be putting a lot of time and attention into figuring out how to adjust to a new way of being where our freedoms have been curtailed and our routines changed. We will be concerned about practicalities such as health, food supplies, shopping, child care, work, money and so on.
We don’t know how long it will be before this virus abates and before it becomes safe again to have some kind of semblance in society to the lives we lived before. At a minimum it will be weeks, but looking at the reality of the situation it could reasonably be months. We will have to think again and revisit how we will manage the above concerns over a longer period of time, but after we have got some kind of handle on that, and how we will use our time to the best of our abilities, we will also have another opportunity.
At the moment we are in a kind of ‘survival mode’, although our actual lives may not be at risk if we are fortunate enough to be the healthy ones who are safely tucked away in our own homes. Humans adapt to change, and we all will in a strange way ‘get used’ to this new way of life. One that affords us the opportunity to do some deep work, and deal with some of our ‘stuff’. While having spring indoors may be the perfect time for a ‘spring clean’, the real work is dealing with our internal ‘stuff’.
We all have baggage. We all have emotional and psychological pain to some extent, and it’s not going to go away just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic with more pressing concerns.
In the rush and hurry of lives once lived traveling to work, filling our minds with entertainment, sports, distractions, concerts, travel, events, nights out, socialising, trips to the cinema, dinners with friends, taking pictures of our meals and posting them instantly online, we have a tendency to ‘stuff’ our issues down, and they may be bubbling under the surface for years, for some of us they may ‘explode’ and bubble over at times of great stress or change, or even rest when we can no longer distract ourselves from them with more pressing concerns or with frivolities.
You can choose to continue to distract, to fill your minds with escapism, or you can take even a little bit of space and time to truly seek how to live life with a lighter load.
This catastrophe has show us that none of us are sufficient in and of ourselves (and if you are like me and have lived many years in weakness and fear, then you will already be well aware f that fact).
It is a time to look at what are the flimsy crutches you have been using to prop yourself up, and which have now been pulled away from you. What will actually keep you standing through this storm? Are you going to continue to cling to the idols of distraction and entertainment or are you going seek a bit deeper?
What are some of the things you have been shoving down that you can no longer avoid facing up to?
– Fear of death and dying.
-A broken heart.
-A troubled past.
-A struggling or broken relationship.
-Prioritising work over your family.
-Never having enough time for other people.
-Fear of being alone.
-The scars of separation, divorce, family conflict.
-Mental health struggles.
-Your fear of the future.
-Your ideas of what it means to be ‘successful’ in life.
-Your worth or value as a human being, in comparison with those around you – doesn’t this tragedy show us that from Princes to Paupers, we are all essentially the ‘same’ and equally vulnerable.
-The people you haven’t spoken to for years, but wished you could reconcile with.
-The things that might be left unsaid and done before it’s too late.
-Your children’s futures.
-What you think will happen after death.
-How you want to spend your time before you die.
-What kind of legacy will you be leaving.
-Should you make that will?
-What do you look to for hope and comfort?
-Why you have resisted getting in touch with that person, and whether you will regret it if you don’t.
-Your freedom to live.
-Childhood trauma and pain.
-Confidence issues to step up and be the person you were born to be in this world….while there is still time.
We have an opportunity to choose not to carry bags of regret throughout the rest of our lives, however long or short they may turn out to be. Only you know what is in the ‘junk drawers’ of your heart and mind. Is it time for a clear out? Is it time to face the fear and open the drawers? Is it time to ask for help from someone who can actually take these burdens from you?
Maybe it is or it isn’t I don’t know. But it is definitely a time for us all to think and to reflect more than we usually allow ourselves to do.
We’re all somewhat anxiously finding ways to adjust to this new and unwanted ‘normal’. While we may be able to enjoy more time at home, and have more time to do things, it is under awful circumstances, and so it can be hard to settle and to concentrate on anything much.
We all have a choice here. To survive or thrive in lockdown. The third option is to go under, and that’s not a pleasant place to be. Many of us will have experienced times in our lives that have felt dark, scary and as if things are falling in upon us. We need to be strong and not let that be an option here. My heart goes out to those who are living in terrible domestic situations or even homeless in this time, such that ‘thriving’ isn’t really an option. But for the rest of us who are safe at home, we do have options.
Unless we have vision, we’re going to simply drift along, trying to muddle through each day as best as we can. If you want to thrive in this situation, you’re going to have to put your mind to it. We’re part of a unique time in history, and I personally don’t want my ‘legacy’ or ‘fruit’ of this season to be merely having spent all of my time playing computer games, watching films, or sharing random videos on social media. Do you? We need to step up if we want more than that for ourselves and our communities.
If you’re in this with me, then I encourage you to write down at least three things that you want to accomplish, work on, or build up during this time. You don’t need to share it with anyone, but you do need to be clear about what these things are. That way, even if you don’t have a solid routine (and who does in a time like this anyway?), you can still ‘chip away’ at things little by little, day by day, moving purposefully and with focus and direction.
Perhaps once you’ve written them down, share them with at least one other person, or simply display them somewhere for you to see and to keep yourself accountable by.
It can also help us to focus so that we don’t give in to the stress, sadness and negativity of this situation.
What about you? What focus will you have to help you more than just ‘muddle through’ this stressful and challenging time?
The initial cheers for our frontline workers (medics, virologists, drivers, supermarket workers, cleaners, crematorium staff, care workers, the list goes on…) across the globe felt like a crescendo of encouragement, ‘rallying the troops’. In this pandemic, countries are not warring with each other, but rallying together against a common global enemy.
Perhaps being isolated, you have felt helpless and alone in this strange catastrophe. Yet, the scenes we have witnessed and been part of, open a window to the many others who are all ‘on the same team’.
Now, we’re collectively fighting Coronavirus, and I sincerely hope that the ‘troops on the frontline’ feel a bit more refreshed and appreciated in their ongoing battle.
Let me just get back to the image of everyone clapping outside their homes, or from their homes. We are not isolated, although tucked away inside, we are not alone, and we *all* have a part to play, no matter how small that might feel to you at the moment, we all have a crucial role to play in ‘blocking those gaps’ against this unseen enemy, by staying at home, by good hygiene, and by supporting other people in a variety of ways, and also by taking care of ourselves.
You may be wondering why I have titled this post ‘swords and spades’. I’m glad you asked ! 😉 Some of you I’m well aware will already know, and that gives me a boost of confidence for a variety of reasons 🙏👌.
For those of you who don’t yet know, if we look back in history, there was a man named Nehemiah who was an ordinary and decent man, living in 5th Century BC, who found himself in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. We have witnessed news of wars and terrorism all across the world, and Nehemiah lived at a time where he was living in the midst of constant attacks from groups of people who wanted to destroy and crush those he knew, those he worked with, those he loved, an entire group of people just going about their lives. As enemies descended upon them with distressing regularity, they found their daily lives to be changed and challenged.
In front of *their* own homes, each and every one of them had to be part of a defence and recovery mission. Literally, with a sword in one hand an a tool for building in the other they had to both defend themselves against attack, and also collectively build together what was constantly being broken down. Just as in a previous post where I talked about the image of us bringing our ‘shields’ together in mutual defence and protection, I am sure you can see the analogies here with our own situation, from these actual events in history.
What figuratively are the swords and spades you are able to use, each from our own homes, in a collective and united effort?
What are your means of protection, and what are your instruments and skills to rebuild what is being broken?
Remember that you are part of a great and collective effort against all of this distress and unseen attack, and no small effort is wasted. Keep going, you fight and build with millions around the globe, so be encouraged! You are making a difference, but you shouldn’t let your guard down. Keep protecting, keep rebuilding.
(For those who are also fighting and defending on another level, a different ‘frontline’ where the battle is real and fierce, remember it is fought and won on our knees! Have vision and remember the stakes are even higher in this one, so pray and allow the Light to break through the darkness. Our Commander in Chief has got this. 😉 🙏👌💪
In the UK, as in many other parts of the world, we ‘clap for our carers’ to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of our National Health Service. It is heartening to see (and hear). I really do hope it is an encouragement to stay strong and to keep on going.
The people around us, as we can clearly see, aren’t invincible. They need support and encouragement, especially those on the front lines who are doing so much for each and every one of us. A collective well done for showing your / our support!
For those of you who like to watch or play team sports, doesn’t the cheer of a crowd spur on the players, and give them that bit of a boost? When you are enduring any challenge, it makes such a difference to know that you are surrounded by a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who have gone before you or who are cheering you on (and yes I meant ‘cloud’ and now ‘crowd’ – Hebrews 12:1 😉 ).
Similarly in your life, there will be people doing things to strengthen, encourage and help you. Maybe it’s someone in your family who speaks to you and listens to your concerns, whether in person or on the phone. Maybe it is a friend who is always there for you. Maybe it is your child who draws pictures of rainbows to put in the window to cheer you and other people up. Maybe it is someone who brings you food and leaves it at your door, or someone who prays for you, gives you advice and guidance, or helps and supports you in some way. Just as you need them, remember that they too are only human, and ‘cheer them on’ to keep going, even if it is in seemingly small ways. It all makes a difference. Listen to your spouse who has taken time to hear your concerns. Tell your child how much of a difference they are making to you with their little offerings. Let your neighbour know just how much they are valued and how them bringing you food is a great thing in your life and that they are making a difference. Those you lean on may not have support in their own lives, so as we cheer on the NHS, and other health services, food delivery drivers, shop workers, and so on, around the world, let us also cheer on those closest to us. Every little helps. ❤ P.S. You’re doing great, keep going strong! 🙂
*Your children are looking to you. Who will you be for them?*
Children are far more perceptive than many of us realise. They pick up on subtleties and sometimes keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves when they are unsure of things.
Whether or not you have children of your own, it is likely that there will be young people in your life, who need stability and security from the adults around them.
If your children are younger, perhaps you may be able to shield and shelter them in a safe little cocoon away from the world. They may be too young to understand what is going on, and only know that their routine has changed and you may be able to give them a safe and positive experience through this.
Yet, even young children can pick up on things from adults that we sometimes fail to pay attention to.
For older children, teenagers and young adults, this may be a much more confusing and unsettling time, and chances are, how they get through this will impact upon how they do for the next few years in their lives in terms of resilience, outlook on life and even mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
It might be easy to get caught up in the immediacy of this pressing situation, but they need you to be their role models, their leaders, their examples. In a world where greed and selfishness is coming to the fore, can you be kind, giving, selfless? Are you showing them an example of fear or of faith and courage? Are you providing them with the learning opportunities to build skills and resilience to face an unknown future? What are the certainties that you can lay down for them?
We are all examples to children and young people in some way, even if we don’t have children of our own to nurture, love and protect, we still have a part to play, whether as teachers, aunts or uncles, friends and mentors.
Teenagers who have not been able to sit their exams this year may feel like it is a catastrophe in their own personal lives. Do they have the space to talk about and express how they are feeling? Can you and we assure them that actually there are so many opportunities that don’t depend on exam results and that we are all living in changing times where we will have to adapt and learn, and that they *do* have a hope and a future. If you don’t believe this yourself, if you are doubtful and fearful, it makes things a bit more of a challenge to them.
Pay attention to the mental health of the young people in your life, and set the examples that they need you to be right now. Let them know that there is a way forwards, and that there is hope. And above all, listen and love and provide a sense of security and safety so that they can grow through this and not be crushed or overwhelmed by it.
I feel like my last few posts have been a bit ‘heavy’. It’s the reality, but we also need to be able to focus on the good things, the little bursts of sunshine, and the brighter rays of light in our days.
I’ll keep this short in the hope that we can continue to build community spirit and resilience, and that some of you will post about the ‘little things’ that have been good in your days. Thank you.
*Is this really happening? How on earth has this become our new “normal”?*
Once we have got over the initial panic and fear and taken action to establish some kind of safety for our loved ones and our friends, and once we are safely tucked away in our homes (most of us reading this at least, I presume), we will be faced with a range of thoughts and emotions.
As I have explored in this series of posts, we will be juggling with the practicalities of daily life, and also the bigger life questions perhaps running in the background of our thoughts. We need to consider a new routine, a new way of living, a new way of being as a society, that seems to be becoming increasingly restricted day by day, for our own good it seems.
But at some point, once we do begin to feel a bit safe and settled, we are healthy, at home, have food, are able to help and support others in some way, the ‘craziness’ of this situation may hit us.
It’s important to be kind to ourselves and each other as we process things, bit by bit, and to prioritise self-care. This is *not* normal, this is nothing like any of us could have anticipated, and no one can tell you what the right or wrong way to process this is, because none of us know.
As with many of my words of encouragement, I will once again reiterate the importance of community. The reality of faith and God in my life is what is getting me through, but not all of you have that. We need each other. These are strange and crazy times, and we need to figuratively put our ‘I’ pads away, and become the generation of ‘we’ and not just ‘me’. I’m thankful for technology that is helping us to do that.
What is helping you to process things?
It has been said that tragedies and difficulties like this pandemic bring out the best and the worst in people. We’ve seen the worst in the terrible behaviour of some people in society, and I don’t really want to focus on that negativity here, but we are also seeing incredible acts of bravery, courage and also perseverance in the midst of fear.
In this post, I particularly pay tribute to the many men, women and children on the ‘front lines’ of this. They may be health professionals, doctors, nurses, scientists working tirelessly to find a cure, cleaners, bin collectors, volunteers, supermarket workers, food-delivery drivers, local councils, children of ‘key workers’, and so many more that I haven’t mentioned here. One such doctor in the UK has moved from his family home where his six year old son is going through the journey of recovering from or waiting for treatment for cancer, and he will not be able to be with his own little child through this painful time in his little life, because he is sacrificing his time to care for people suffering or dying from this awful virus. The little boy has his mum and other family members to care for him, but let us just take a moment to think of this selflessness of this doctor. Would we put other people before our own families, to save lives?
That is just one person, but day in and day out, and through the night, ordinary people like you and me, but people who have chosen to be in the medical or caring professions, or who are fulfilling their roles in protecting society in some other way, are actually putting their lives at risk to keep us safe.
We have seen across the world, people paying tribute to their health care workers by applauding them from their windows. Tonight at 8pm in the UK, we are doing this for the NHS staff, but also, let us join together to show our gratitude for the many, many people across the world in this generation who are risking their all to keep us safe. God bless them. I am so thankful for them. For those inclined to pray, please keep them in your prayers, they are doing so much for us, they deserve our appreciation. ❤ Feel free to post your messages of gratitude below, who knows, someone who needs to see it might just be lifted by your words.
We are hearing everyday in the news and social media, and through other people, of the rising numbers of people affected by Coronavirus. We hear constant updates on the death tolls in our own and other countries. The scale of this tragedy is beyond comprehension, and we find ways to cope, to perhaps become ‘numb’ to it, or to hold it all at a distance.
However, we don’t just hear about the numbers, we are also reading stories about the real lives, seeing faces and names, and insights into the families that are grieving.
I know that among you there are some people who have either heard of people known to them in some way who have either recovered from the virus or who have died as a result.
That’s when it begins to hit home. That’s when there is a need for a Peace beyond ourselves, for reassurance, and comfort.
To any of you who are in this situation right now, I hope you can find the space to grieve, and to find comfort and Peace in this situation, and support from loved ones and friends.
For the rest of us for whom these realities are thankfully still at arms length and are other people’s stories, we will still be experiencing all sorts of thoughts and emotions including the disbelief of what we are actually living through collectively.
Last year, we heard of the deaths of many celebrities. This year, well….there really are no words, are there?
Perhaps we can take comfort in seeking and turning to a Peace and comfort that Is greater than and transcends all that is happening on earth right now, the Peace of Christ. Perhaps, we can also grow stronger as a community and be the listening ears for our friends, the shoulders to cry on, and the support that is much needed in sad and worrying times like this.